At the outset, in the early 1990s, our meetings in Cambridge around Michael Schluter’s dining table were rather informal. Michael had gathered together a group of friends from different denominations and academic disciplines. We had a shared interest in trying to develop distinctively Christian thinking, rooted in close attention to the biblical text, to address issues facing society and the church. If, in The Christian Mind Harry Blamires had lamented the 20th century church’s loss of intellectual morale and secular drift, we had before us the inspiration of figures such Francis Schaeffer and John Stott and their attempts to begin to turn the tide.
We found that our discussions were more fruitful if one of us wrote a draft paper to serve as the basis for discussion. In the light of our discussion, the paper evolved …. until we drew a line and moved onto a new topic. In this way, working papers on various topics emerged and, with encouragement from various quarters, it dawned on us that others might like to ‘eavesdrop’ on the outcome of our discussions. And so, in 1992, the Cambridge Papers began to be published.
In these early years, we wrote all our own papers. Our interests were eclectic: in part, this reflected the breadth of our interests and academic backgrounds; in part, this reflected our conviction that a Christian worldview was relevant to every aspect of life. In the economic, social, and political spheres, a distinctive strand in our thinking was attention to the ways in which detailed, but imaginative, reflection on Old Testament Israel as a ‘paradigm’ case could contribute to the formation of social ethics. This prompted a recurring theme in our papers: a conviction that greater consideration should be given to the relational consequences of economic systems, financial markets, and social policies. In the year 2000 we published a collection of our papers under the title Christianity in a Changing World: Biblical insight on contemporary issues.
At around this time, we began a close association with the Jubilee Centre lasting 20 years. We enjoyed editorial freedom and the Jubilee Centre published our papers, covered our costs, and looked after administration. During this period, more and more, we found ourselves publishing papers written by guest contributors and, slowly, the ‘writing group’ morphed into an ‘editorial group’. In this way, we were able to access to expertise beyond our own and draw on a more diverse range of authors. Our guest contributors included a number of senior academics (John Wyatt, Glynn Harrison, Bob White, Sujit Sivasundaram, David McIlroy), younger academics (Amy Donovan, Anna (A.J.) Nickerson, Tom Simpson, Jon Thompson), and Christian thinkers (Daniel Strange, Nick Spencer). By the end of 2022, Cambridge Papers had been written by a total number of 57 authors. During this period, international interest in our endeavours led to selected papers being translated into French, Spanish and Romanian.
Now Cambridge Papers is embarking on a new chapter in its history. Last year, Michael Schluter stepped down from the editorial group to focus on Relational Research and Relational Peacebuilding Initiatives. Under new leadership the Jubilee Centre established a new focus on building a movement for good business, a fair economy and dignified work. We have established an independent charity, Cambridge Papers Limited, which will publish Cambridge Papers from now on. We look forward to the new opportunities offered by our independent status: for more direct engagement with our readers through our e-newsletter (you can sign up here) and our feedback form (which you can find here) and new possibilities for collaboration with a range of Christian organisations with interests that complement our own.